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I found the following line in today’s (December 4) Time magazine article titled, Coburn Speaks Up:

“On "Fox News Sunday," Sooner State Sen. tells Chris Wallace he would have trouble supporting Gingrich. Coburn: "I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership. I found it lacking often times."

To the eyes of a non-native English speaker, and as a bigoted septuagenarian, Coburn’s remark looks as if Newt Gingrich has served under Coburn and Coburn experienced personally how excellent Newt Gingrich’s leadership is.

Is it wrong to say:

"I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's. Having served under him for four years and experienced personally the lack of his leadership, I found it lacking oftentimes,"

though the repetition of 'lack' might be redundant?

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2 Answers

Technically, the only thing missing is a comma:

I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's, having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership. I found it lacking often times.

However, it's still a bit awkward in places: a name ending in 'ch' looks strange and unpronounceable with a possessive tacked on, that misplaced "personally" bothers me, and "oftentimes", besides being one word, is just a redundant way to say "often".

Your correction is on the right track, but you've replaced a missing comma with a couple of incomplete sentences. Instead, I'd rewrite it as:

I'm not inclined to support Newt Gingrich. I served under him for four years and personally experienced his leadership. I often found it lacking.

This doesn't use any complicated grammatical constructs, but still gets the same ideas across.

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As a written form, your final version is by far the clearest way to make the points. But I must be honest and say that if I imagine it being spoken I wouldn't like the implied pause before the final short sentence. But I've already said I think it sounds weird for the "leadership" to be both experienced and found lacking. –  FumbleFingers Dec 5 '11 at 0:22
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I don't rate any of the phrasing too highly, as it all seems a bit clumsy.

Grammatically speaking there must be a comma after Gingrich's.

Unless it's OP's transcription error, oftentimes should have been one word.

I personally wouldn't use the possessive for Gingrich's. In such a convoluted sentence it's just one more distraction from clear communication, since until we've read ahead we don't know if it refers back to "supporter", or forward to something coming later - such as I'm not a supporter of Gingrich's views on abortion.

It's only speech, so one shouldn't judge too harshly. Besides which the clunky phrasing is made much worse by a semi-literate journalist's transcription thereof. But if it were to be recast, perhaps some minimal changes towards a better version might be...

I'm not inclined to support Newt Gingrich, having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership, which oftentimes was lacking."

But I still find something unsettling about a statement simultaneously claiming to have experienced something, while at the same time saying it was "lacking" (ie - "wasn't there").

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@FumbleFingers.Regarding spelling of ‘often times,’ I simply pasted the quote of Mr. Coburn’s remark from Time’s article as it is. Yes, both Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary and Kenkyussha’s Readers English Japanese Dictionary at hand register ‘oftentimes’ in one word. It again adds to my question on grammatical correctness of the quote in question. –  Yoichi Oishi Dec 4 '11 at 23:52
    
@Yoichi Oishi: Well, as I said, it's reported speech. So we can blame the Time writer for often times. A bit ironic, really - you'd think of all journalists, those working for Time should get that one right! It must also be the journalist who missed the vital comma after Gingrich's (which I forgot to castigate, so I'll edit to reflect that one too!) –  FumbleFingers Dec 5 '11 at 0:01
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